Over the last couple of days I’ve struggled for topic that would elevate yours truly to the next level (8, who’d a thunk it!) here at this wonderful place we all know and love as E2. I’ve wondered if it should be something poignant, something personal, something factual, something amusing, something controversial, or, should I resort to my favorite subject and write something about my kid? Maybe I’ll just give this a shot….
God, I love a good thunderstorm.
I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it brings back childhood memories of growing up in Brooklyn. Those hot steamy afternoons when the humidity made the air feel so thick and heavy that you thought you could hold it in your hands. Those days of no air conditioning at home, when the inside of your house felt like an oven and outdoors felt no better. Those days before Doppler radar could tell you just about the precise time and location of when and where the storm would hit. Those days when my father would (before life turned him into a bitter old man) crack open a beer and took the hand of his scared eight year old kid to sit out on the stoop and wait for Mother Nature to takes its course.
I remember how the air changed. How one could actually smell the rain in the air. How the skies would turn so dark in the afternoon that the streetlights came on. How the wind picked up and the branches on the Sycamore trees that lined the neighborhood streets would begin to sway back and forth. You could almost feel the electricity in the air. And yeah, I remember how my father held the hand of his scared eight year old kid and offered up some comforting words.
And then you would hear it. The sound of thunder rumbling somewhere off in the distance. Maybe you would catch a glimpse of lightning and feel the wetness of the first tentative raindrops as they began to fall from the sky. And then you wondered, maybe, just maybe, the storm would miss us and it wasn’t going to be so bad after all and you loosened your grip on your father’s hands just a little bit. Sometimes the storms would pass and at the time, it made you feel better. You’d let go of your father’s hand and run off to do whatever eight year olds do. Then, other times the storms would hit full force and you’d clamp down on your father's hand like a vise as the lightning got closer, the thunder got louder, the winds got stronger and the rain began pouring down in sheets. I remember the walls shaking with sound of thunder and the rain sounding like a drumbeat as it pounded up against the cars and the windows. To me, that’s what the memories are made off.
And then I remember the aftermath of the storm and letting go of my father’s hand. How clean the air smelled and how much cooler it felt. How the skies lightened up and the clouds disappeared and the sun poked its way through. I remember the rainwater as it gushed down the streets and made its way towards the sewers. The neighborhood kids would gather round the sidewalk with old popsickle sticks and imagine they were boats and race them in the water. I remember how my father would go inside, almost disappointed that the storm was over as I ran off to join in the fun.
Why do I write this? Well, here in my adopted hometown of Columbus, Ohio, each and every spring and summer, we seem to get our fare share of thunderstorms. As a matter of fact, we’ve had a couple of them over the last two days. I’m also the father of an eight year old kid and we gather on the porch to watch as the storms make their way through our fair city. Sometimes, depending on the intensity of the storm, she’s scared and we hold hands and I offer up what I hope are some comforting words. We watch as nature creates its own little light and sound show when the lightning draws near and the thunder gets louder. Then, when the storm has run its course, she runs off to play with her friends and I feel, like I think my father felt, a little disappointed that the storm is over.
I don’t have any intention of turning into a bitter old man like my dad did. Maybe I remember him too much that way. Maybe I took his comforting words and the reassurance he offered me for granted, maybe I just didn’t know any better. All I do know is that I remember them now. I hope she can say the same when she gets older.
God, I love a good thunderstorm…
Side note –a heartfelt thank you goes out to all noders who have offered up encouraging words and good thoughts during my time here. It means more to me than you’ll probably ever know.